Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bear Creek

Today, Lisa (the woman who drove me down to rescue Ashke) came over and picked us up in her trailer to take us for a ride at Bear Creek. She borrowed a Morab (Morgan-Arab cross) from her friend for the day. His name is Jackson, but Lisa calls him Mongo.

Lisa was at the barn at 9 am and I was almost ready to ride. I had groomed Ashke and picked out his feet, while J pulled the saddle/bridle/pack out of the tack room. Lisa has a three horse trailer and Mongo was about twenty minutes south in the direction of Bear Creek, so Ashke was the first horse picked up.

He was exceedingly nervous. I ended up putting the come-a-long on him to get him to walk in the trailer. Once the rope was over his haunches, Ashke walked right in. I got him secured with hay and carrots and we drove to pick up Mongo. I expected Ashke to settle down and travel without any issue, since he had trailered from Amarillo to Denver without any.

Boy was I wrong.

This is what greeted me when we stopped for Mongo:

 Ashke was so stressed he was visibly shaking and trembling from head to toe. He was sweaty on the shoulder and flank. Even with me in the trailer stroking and doing T-Touch on him, he was upset and unhappy. All I can figure is that the only time he has been trailered is when he was being traded or sold to someone new. He calmed down when we brought Mongo in and actually ate a couple of bites of food. I would guess he has always been trailered as a singleton in the past and having another horse next to him was a relief.

We got down to Bear Creek and discovered that there was a 10k and a bike race being held in the park at the same time. It made for interesting riding. We parked near the arena down by Bear Creek Stables (T and CJ had a week of summer camp there last year) and got saddled up. Ashke was very stressed when he was first unloaded, so I lunged him in the arena for a couple of minutes to give him a chance to settle down. He did right away and seemed to find comfort in a routine that has become very familiar to him.

That's Jackson, aka Mongo. Just about ready to go.

And Ashke wanting to know why we haven't taken off yet.

J, T and CJ went geocaching on their bikes while Lisa and I rode. They found one but were frustrated in finding any more since J didn't know the area or where the paths were to get to the geocaches. I think they had fun though.

This is looking west from the arena. The clouds threatened but there was only one drop of rain.

This is looking east from where we parked toward the arena.

Once we were ready to go, J and the boys took off and Lisa and I went into the arena to warm up. Mongo tried to buck and act up with Lisa, but she managed to get him under control. Ashke was great. No fuss. Listened well and took his cues from my verbal commands. We cantered around the arena a couple of times and then we were ready to go.

Fairly nice trails to follow. We did some bushwhacking as well, since the runners had right of way. We started toward the east, but doubled back and headed west. We figured if we were going to be dealing with runners the entire day we might as well ride where Lisa was familiar with the trails. 

Ashke snorted the entire time. And he didn't want to walk in the shadow under the trees. He would snap his feet up, kind of like a cat touching water. Rocks were scary and so were the sticks lying all over the place. 

And then we came to this:

I would love to say that the horses went through it without any problems, but that would be a lie. We got off and led the horses across the creek. Luckily, I've started wearing my cowboy boots and they faired just fine, which is a good thing because if I had my North Face shoes on, my feet would have been wet for the rest of the day. Ashke went across without any problem as long as I was leading him.

The creek crossing from the other side. I promised myself that we would ride across the creek on the way back. We did. It took a couple of taps on Ashke's flank with the bat to let him know I meant it when I asked him to walk through the water. He stopped and got himself a drink. Then he walked across the creek. I was so proud of him.


Ashke seemed to enjoy the changing scenery. I was carrying my bat but only used it once, on the way home (can you guess when?)

Lisa seemed to enjoy herself and Mongo did pretty good, although he was much sweatier and breathing heavier than Ashke. I think Lisa and I could cover some decent ground, if she could ride him enough to get him in shape.

You can't tell, but this is a fairly steep hill. And very rocky. Ashke did pretty good going up, although Lisa thought she could see muscle weakness on the right hip where he tied up in June. It is going to be one of the things I ask the chiropractor about when we go see her in two weeks.

At the top of the hill, it opened up and leveled out. I know Lisa likes to canter a lot, but I didn't feel like pushing Ashke that hard. He is still being conditioned and Mongo hadn't been ridden in a long time, so, since I was leading we mostly walked with some trotting added in for good measure.

We stopped here so Lisa could put up her glasses. It was starting to get cloudy and grey. Mongo started trying to lay down and roll. Lisa really had to struggle to keep him on his feet.

Such awesome country. There was some prickly pear with fruit on it. One of these days I will try and make prickly pear jam. We managed to avoid them.

Lisa. Mongo. Storm clouds in the background.


We crossed this bridge twice. Ashke followed one time and led the way the second.

Lisa wanted to ride for a while longer, thinking we had another half hour before we were to meet J and the boys for lunch. We rode some of the way up the other hill before turning around to retrace our tracks back to the food. I think we had ridden enough. I didn't want to exhaust Ashke and we had covered terrain today we hadn't seen before. We went up and down 500 feet according to my app. It was enough. Besides I had to pee like a race horse. So back we went.

It sure felt like we had ridden farther than 5 miles in one hour and seventeen minutes. It would be fun to organize a ride there with the stable. Although, I'm not sure any one would show up.

Any way, the day was great. Ashke was awesome. I hope that as we go on he will realize he will come home from our trips and not be so stressed about the travel. I had to use the come-a-long and pressure to get him back in the trailer. He tried to load himself backwards. I got the rope off of him and got him turned around again. He was fine until we unloaded Mongo. Then he got stressed again and bit me. He tried to bite my face off after we got back to the barn. He needs to figure this out if we are going to do riding outside of the arena. Which we are going to do. He needs to get comfortable. We will be trailering to Henderson in two weeks. Maybe that will help him settle.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Break Through . . .

I rode Ashke last night without warming him up in the round pen or the arena. I just tightened the girth and jumped on (okay, gingerly mounted him from the mounting block.) He was awesome. He didn't fuss or act up. He did shake his head at me a couple of times when we went by the open door leading out of the indoor arena, but it was mild protest at best.

I worked him at the walk, trot and canter in both directions. He relaxed, kept his poll down and neck flexed. He turned on the neck rein to the left easily and to the right with a little bit of help from the direct rein. He is beginning to roll back on his turn after a stop. And moving forward when turned in a circle. He backs with very little pressure, keeping his head down and tucking in his chin.

I am riding with a heavier snaffle bit, solid copper, with D ring sides. I had been riding with a thinner sweet iron bit with copper inlays. I didn't feel like we were getting enough slobber with the sweet iron and also didn't like how thin it was on the bars of his mouth. I was having some issues the first couple of times we rode with the new bit, because I felt like he was locking his jaw against it and pulling. I was having a hard time getting him to stop. Last night I focused on stilling my body and sitting back when asking him to stop, rather than relying on the bit to stop him. It took him twice - TWO TIMES - to figure out what I was asking him for. It wasn't a sliding stop by any means, but I don't need him to slide stop.  I didn't ride for long, because I don't want him ring sour and there's only so much you can do in the indoor arena.

T wanted to ride, so he went up and down the arena with me leading him. Ashke was not amused. I think Ashke thinks he should only be ridden by me. At least that was the look on his face.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Six Snippets

1. Pulling Ashke out of his stall before he has finished his breakfast to be ridden results in a very grumpy horse.

2. Protest is registered through rearing and stomping of the front feet. Bucking and kicking in the round pen are optional.

3. When a horse won't walk forward, backing him out of the barn works.

4. Four days in a row of riding may be too much for his back. Luckily he will have four days off before I can get on him again. He should be feeling much stronger on Friday night. For the record, he wasn't acting sore and walked, trotted and cantered without issue after tearing around the round pen for fifteen minutes. I just know it's a lot of work for my boy.

5. We have an appointment with the Chiropractor on the 13th. I'm hoping she can fix everything that might still be wrong. He is starting to turn better to the right. I worked him in serpentines today and he was very responsive, however it would not surprise me to discover he needs to be tweaked.

6. Ashke loves the peppermint flavored hanging treat I got him on Saturday. It is molasses based and leaves sticky residue all over Ashke's muzzle. Cleaning it off with a wet washcloth is not very appreciated. Leaving it on is not much appreciated either. Damned if you do . . . 

PS. Ponyboy is on seven days of turnout thanks to Marit for turning him out with either Lacey or Stoli.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Making Adjustments

Today was an amazing day.

I went out early to ride with Nicole. She has finally found a home for Rhythm in Virginia with a woman who does Grand Prix and Dressage, which is what Nicole trained Rhythm to do. Because of the pending shipment, Nicole needed to get Rhythm her shots and an updated Coggins. While she did that I messed with Ashke - fed him peppermints and rebraided his mane. I also made a huge change with his rig.

First, I had noticed that the saddle wasn't sitting correctly on his back due to the equipedic pad I was using. It was very obvious when we cantered, since both myself and the saddle were bouncing on Ashke's back. I looked at the saddle pad and the foam in the pad has squished down to the edges of the saddle and was applying extra pressure on the upper curve of his ribs. No wonder his back has been sore. I took the pad off and used the original pad we had purchased with the saddle.

He was so much more comfortable. He walked out easier. His trot and canter were smoother and he didn't flip his tail like he had been. It was amazing. He was more responsive to the bit. And then we rode out of the arena.

But first, Nicole and Callie did this:

After their warm-up we went for a 2.3 mile trail ride. Nicole was hesitant to go farther than that, because of the splint on Callie's left front leg. She really doesn't want it to happen again. I was okay with the time because I needed to get home.

Both horses did great. There was no balking and very little issue, other than Callie wanting to trot. Ashke kept his ears forward the entire time, looking around and checking things out. I can't begin to describe how great he was and how happy I am.

Here is our route. I forgot to set the runmeter app until after we had left the farm. Just for clarification, we started and stopped at the same spot.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I took Thursday and Friday off from work because my mom is here for the Houston game. (Broncos, of course.) I was able to work some riding into both days. And I have plans for a Saturday morning ride with Nicole and Callie. Thursday, Ashke was very frisky. He bucked and kicked and raced around the round pen like a mad man. Ten minutes of work didn't take the edge off so J threw four poles in the ring and we watched Ashke tear around like a wild horse. He really can't buck. It's so cute.

I rode him in the arena after the round pen. We walked, trotted and cantered. He did great. Here is the video:

He loves his left lead. We are still struggling with moving to the right, even at a walk and a trot. Nicole is taking Ashke and myself with her and Callie to see her equine chiropractor. I hope she doesn't find anything wrong, but I am pretty sure she is going to find something. It would be good to know that any misalignment could be put right.

I still need practice at the canter. I feel really comfortable at the trot, but still need more time riding at the canter.

Today was another good ride. I didn't work Ashke in the round pen, opting to turn him loose in the big arena instead. Tomorrow will be a great day, since we get to ride out on a trail.

T took videos and I had to add it to the blog. Out of about forty minutes of video I think the video ended up being one minute long. And disjointed.

After I had ridden I took Ashke back into the round pen and let Tristan up on him. I kept him on the lunge line. He needs his stirrups shortened but I had them as short as I have holes in them. I think there is a hole punch at the barn that I can use, so I will check tomorrow and see if I can adjust them. T also discovered the reason I always wear long pants to the barn. His calves were pretty chafed.

My mom took some really good pictures today. I am amazed by how good some of them are.

I love the look in his eye in this picture. He hates new people coming to the stable. It makes him nervous and uncomfortable. He spent a lot of time today licking me and nuzzling my shirt. It was so sweet in an insecure sort of way.

Yesterday I gave Ashke a molasses and peppermint treat. I hung it in his stall. His face, nose, chin and muzzle were sticky and dark brown when we got there today. Grace said he loved it and didn't leave it alone. It's suspended from the ceiling joist with baling twine so it swings and moves. It took J about fifteen minutes of work to get his muzzle unsticky. Not entirely clean, though.

I love this picture, even though it is slightly out of focus. He's put on weight and is developing muscle. He is a little heavy across the ribs, but once we start putting miles on him it will strip down. And I want him a little fat this winter. I don't ever want him to think winter will be as bad as last year.

Such a great picture. Such a sweet horse. I left the arena to use the portajohn and he walked over to the gate and waited for me to come back.

Mom got some great pics.

Only one leg off the ground.

Mom even got a decent picture of me. Can you tell I have almost lost 25 lbs? I can, but then I have to look at my mug all the time.

Three feet off the ground.

He hopped around on one leg all afternoon. So typey.

T found the riding thing very serious.

Ashke wasn't as excited as the boy, but he was a very good horse.

Check back tomorrow for details of our next ride.


Sunday, September 16, 2012


Our first adventure with the horse and bike was interesting, to say the least. T and his friend M decided they wanted to go with us, so we set out with T and M walking carrying their assault rifles (non-expanding-recreational-foam devices; read: NERF guns). J was on her bike and I was on Ashke.

Ashke did really well. We went up Pecos, turned west on 152nd and made our way to the equestrian trail. Ashke trotted quite a bit and also walked on a loose rein. He was a little directionless at first, but finally settled into his work. We did about a block of equestrian trail before hitting another road. I had J and the boys turn right and walk the road to the canal bank. By the time J got off the little bit of off-road riding she had done, there were a ton of goatheads in her bike tires. She stopped counting when she hit 27 without rotating the tire. Ooooops.

Goatheads are a small three pronged, hard as rock, natural tack from a plant called the puncturevine, which grows wild all over the place in Colorado. They suck. This is what J's bike tire looked like:

So then it was me on Ashke, the boys playing at reconnassiance in the empty canal and J pushing her bike. We went north on the canal bank to Sheridan parkway before turning around. When we turned around Ashke got testy. He reared and kicked out on me. I got him stopped, got off of him and made him work in a circle. In both directions. He wasn't too interested. I finally got him into a fast trot around me to the right. After a couple of circles I told him easy. That is our signal for him to slow down. He dropped his head and slowed his trot. I knew at that point that he had his head back in the game. I got back on and for the first mile he did a dancing, slow trot (think nervous horse at a parade). His tail was flagged and his chin tucked into his chest. I kept rubbing his neck and talking to him. Finally, he slowed to a nice walk and I was able to ride him on a loose rein.

When we reached the canal crossing, I got off again and walked with J until we reached 152nd. I got back on and J was able to coast on her bike. The boys had taken off running down the road and were quite a bit ahead of us. Ashke held a trot most of the way. When we turned down Pecos, we had caught up to the boys and J stayed with them. Ashke moved at a slow trot down the verge until we reached 149th. By then he was stumbling a bit and obviously tired. We walked back to the barn and untacked.

Here is the map of our ride:

Yes, I know it is best to make them walk home, so you don't make it okay to turn for home and take off. Yesterday, however, I was not interested in doing anything other than maintaining my control while keeping him moving slow enough to be safe. He was out without another horse, which greatly increases the stress of riding out. I wanted him to enjoy our ride, listen to me and trust that I would get us home safely. As his trust in me increases, our battle-ride home will change. I was proud of him overall and our only issue was a relatively small one.

4.62 miles in an hour and 14 minutes. We had one small break while the boys were resting.

Goatheads suck.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Friday Night Lights

Ashke was itchy and ready to be groomed when I took the sheet off of him last night. I did a quick grooming (I'll do better today when I'm not losing the light) and then saddled the boy. The five days of rest since the last time I rode seemed to have helped the boy to rest and recover. He was in a great mood.

I checked him for swellings and then took him to the round pen. He hates being worked outside after dark. But, with some protest he did it. He kept trying to cut the circle in so he was closer to me. We weren't out there very long. Just long enough that he worked the kinks out of his system. (Although its been months since the last time he humped his back.) We moved to the indoor arena and spent forty minutes or so trotting in circles. I was able to get him to canter in both directions on the correct lead, but we weren't able to keep up the pace due to Chris having a class at the same time. The two who were riding don't canter, so it was just easier to trot and walk then try to avoid the slower horses.

It was incredibly dusty, but the footing felt okay. The dust is from the sand they laid the beginning of the summer. I feel like I am sitting the trot much better and that Ashke is picking up what I am asking him to do. I tell him what a good boy he is all of the time and that seems to calm and encourage him. After I finished riding, I unsaddled him and took him back out to the main saddling area to let him cool off (he wasn't sweaty, just a little warm and I wanted him cool before putting the fly sheet back on him.)

T asked if he could run with Ashke up and down the arena. I wasn't sure Ashke wanted to but I know how much T loves it, so I said we could try. I turned Ashke loose and he just looked at me. I turned his head toward T and said, he wants you to chase him. Go on. Damn if that horse didn't take off after the boy, with his tail flagged, and his head up. T ran down the arena and then back with Ashke just a couple of feet behind and several to the side, cantering slow enough T could stay in front of him. As Ashke came to our end of the arena, I praised him and told him what a good boy he was while giving him scratches on the sides of his head. They did it three times before T was done. All three times Ashke was respectful of distance and speed, seeming to understand the game. T was panting and exhausted at the end of their chase. Ashke just seemed amused.

He is such a wonderful horse.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Notes to Self . . .

1. Time off between rides/working results in a spry, energetic, upbeat horse.

2. An energetic, upbeat horse results in mad galloping with his tail straight up in the air and his head flung high, up and down the arena. It also results in magnificent action in his front legs when he trots.

3. It is best to experience this phenomenom from the ground and not his back until he has worked it out of his system.

4. The communication level between Ashke and I is growing and strengthening. I can tell with a look when he is done and ready to do something else.

5. Ashke's cannon bones, fetlocks and pasturns are getting heavier as the riding and consistent work adds bone to his legs.

6. Turn out with other horses seems to have settled the horse part of his soul. He is calm and focused when I work him, even after he hasn't been worked in awhile.

7. Having the sun set earlier, having it get dark earlier, really, really sucks.

8. The other horses in the barn are indignant that we have stopped sharing treats and not giving pets while waiting for the pigeon fever outbreak to run its course.

9. Going to try mixing horse and bikes this weekend with J and T. I want to see if we can go 10 miles and see how the endurance champion of the world makes out. J and T are going to geocache. We are going to try doing it together.

10. Going to need to wash out the fly blanket this weekend to get the crap off of it.

11. We are moving into perfect riding weather . . . warm enough to be comfortable but cool enough to boost energy instead of drain it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pigeon Fever and Shin Splints

There has been an outbreak of pigeon fever at the barn.

What? What the heck is pigeon fever?

Having not ever heard of pigeon fever before I raced to the interwebs for answers. What in the world did we do prior to google?

Also referred to as dryland distemper or Colorado strangles, pigeon fever earned its name from the characteristic swelling of a horse’s chest from abscesses in the pectoral muscles. Swellings can also occur along a horse’s ventral midline (belly) area and in the groin region, affecting sheaths and udders. The initial clinical signs can be vague, sometimes showing only as lameness or a reluctance of the horse to move.
The equine version of the disease isn’t caught from pigeons; instead, the transmission route is thought to be flies, especially cattle horn flies, carrying the bacteria Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. While rarely contagious to humans, we can easily transfer the infection from horse to horse via our hands or equipment that has touched a draining abscess. A similar strain of pigeon fever affects goats and sheep; cattle are susceptible to both versions. All it takes is a single bacterium entering a wound, abrasion, or break in the horse’s skin or mucous membranes for the disease to take hold.  --
I also did some additional reading. Outbreaks are most common during hot, dry conditions and seems to originate in the dirt. Horses housed on dirt are more likely to have this bacteria than those housed in stalls.
Brian Miller, a veterinarian who teaches at Colorado State University and runs its Equine Field Service, thinks it's probably everywhere and outbreaks increase when dry weather turns the ground to dust that carries the bacteria into scratches and other small wounds. Once a horse develops abscesses, the disease can be spread by flies landing on the infected areas and then carrying the bacteria to other animals, he and others said.
We have applied SWAT on Ashke's chest and midline down his belly (where the horn flies like to snack). I also found a 69" fly sheet at Brighton Feed that came with a neck wrap and covers most of his body.
Doesn't he look sweet and completely covered? We also got the leg bands that emit fly repellent and keep the flies away. There is very little of him that is not covered.
For some reason the fly sheet slides to the left side. I don't know why and I don't know how to fix it. He is probably going to have rubs on his shoulders but that's better than developing abcesses in his chest. I have inspected Ashke's chest and can't tell if there is swelling on the left side or if it is an abcess. Grace thinks he's okay. If it's not an abcess, then Ashke is developing some pretty nice chest muscle.
As far as the shin splints go, Callie came down with a swollen left foreleg on Sunday after our marathon ride. Nicole believes and I agree, that Callie needs some rest and we need to do less next time. She's still a baby, in so many ways. Nicole said that she just got excited and probably pushed her too hard. They cantered a lot more than they had before, and Callie had been ridden a lot longer than Nicole had ridden her before. So, time to take a step back, let Callie heal, and start again slow.
Good news for Ashke - he came back completely sound. And Paul wants to ride out with me, so maybe I can find someone to ride with until Nicole and Callie can go out again. I love riding with Nicole and we can do a shorter ride minus the minis once Nicole decides she can ride out again. However, in the meantime, I still need to keep Ashke moving forward with his conditioning.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Forever Home

I know one of the resounding questions I've had in regards to Ashke was whether or not he was going to work as an endurance horse. I think I've had an underlying thought that if he wasn't going to work as an endurance horse, that I would find him a home where he would be loved and worked, just not in endurance. I've flip-flopped back and forth about the keeping him/not keeping him question and have kind of had the "wait and see how he does" mentality.

This weekend resolved any questions about his ability/interest in being ridden as an endurance horse. I now know he has found his forever home. He did fantastic on our Saturday ride with Nicole.

Ashke was rested on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday he was worked in the round pen for about fifteen minutes. Friday night I rode him for 30 to 45 minutes in the indoor arena and then forced him into the indoor wash room and washed him off. Friday night he felt really good under me. All of his gaits were great and we even cantered in a small circle at one end of the arena. He had lots of energy and although he fussed a bit when the other horses left the arena, he listened well and I was able to ride him without any problems.

Nicole and I rode out after warming up in the arena. Callie was a little testy in the arena and kept kicking out when Nicole was asking her to work. They had a brief "Come to Jesus" moment, in which Callie figured out Nicole was the boss and then she settled down to work. Nicole was able to get Callie to work at a canter, albeit on the wrong lead, but it was a nice canter and Nicole didn't need to force her into the gait, she just sat and gave a little squeeze and off they went. 

When we finished in the arena, we rode out. There was just the two of us, but that was great because then we could ride where and when we wanted without worrying about anyone else. We had a great time and the horses did awesome. We started out on the same trail I rode out on with Marit and Pam. 

Ashke and Callie were both engaged and interested in the trail, although Ashke was much more interested in the new trail once we got to an area that was new.

Ashke and Callie are at about the same place in their training, which makes it nice to ride with Nicole. Add to that the fact that Nicole is amazing in her ability to train horses and her great personality, and I enjoy riding with her; it made for a wonderful day. Callie is also beginning to mellow in regards to Ashke, so riding them together has become much less "marey" and much more pleasant.

Nicole even offered to take some pictures of Ashke for me, which he interpreted as a peppermint stop . . . silly boy . . . but it was nice to get some pictures of more than his ears.

I was trying to get Ashke to prick his ears in the direction of the camera, but he just kept them tilted back - probably trying to figure out what the hell I was doing.

I rode with my camelbak. It was a lifesaver, but I need to figure out how to keep the air out of the bag so there is no scary water sloshing noise coming from Ashke's back. Nicole keeps saying she needs to get one for herself. I shared because it was pretty warm. Ashke moved very easily and we only had a couple of times where he balked.

Doesn't Nicole look happy? She is talking about taking us and the horses to a place in Niwot where we can work the horses through streams, in ponds, through trees and brush, stepping around and through things. And they have a galloping track that goes around the outside, so we can spend some time cantering. I'm really excited about going up there in two weeks. 

Doesn't Callie look great? Isn't that the best freaking mane ever?!!! She's a pretty well put together horse for a three and a half year old. Nicole rides her really well and Callie trusts Nicole.

When we reached the canal, I asked Nicole if she wanted to do a short ride or a longer ride. She said she was good with a longer ride so we turned southwest on the canal. It was a very pretty ride with a lot of green, which was kind of surprising given the lack of rain in our region. We crossed one road and continued down the canal until we rode past a horse farm that had two miniature stallions in a pasture next to the trail. Ashke and Callie were pretty freaked out by them. 

Okay, Ashke was a little freaked out and a lot curious. Callie lost her freaking mind.

She almost went backwards into the empty canal. I looked back to see her frantically backpeddling away from the stallions and towards the canal. It was empty but very deep and she could have gone over backwards if she had continued on her path. That would have been disasterous. I struggled to get Ashke turned around since he was a little bit nervous about the freakishly small horses. By the time we were turned around Nicole had slid off Callie and was controlling her from the ground. I slipped off Ashke as well.

This situation is the exact reason why ground manners are so darn important. Callie has been schooled for several years by Nicole and she knows that Nicole is the undisputed boss from the ground. Her trust in Nicole is reinforced when Nicole is on the ground and it showed in our interaction with the minis. Ashke and Callie both touched noses with the stallions (who were very excited to have potential mates on the other side of the fence. They seemed completely obvious to the fact that they were just about as tall as our horse's hocks. What they lacked in height, they made up in eagerness. I think one was going to use the other to give him a boost.) Even after touching noses, Callie tried to climb on Nicole's shoulders to get away from them. We hand walked them past the stables and around the bend where we were confronted by a sagging tree with drooping branches. We hand walked them under the branches and barely cleared the space under the highest branch. On the far side of the tree was a road so we led them across the road. On the far side of the road was a huge open field that led south to 144th and North forever. We had no desire to go back past the minis so we headed North. We were 'sploring.

We crossed back over the road and made our way around a subdivision, riding through sere ground. It was very easy to see the lack of water in the terrain. The footing was great and both horses did awesome. Callie was still a little tense but relaxed as we went on. When we made the turn to the right (East) there was a wonderful, flat, smooth piece of ground and Nicole asked Callie for a canter. Callie moved into the nicest little canter. Ashke jigged a bit and I let him join her in a canter. He was doing pretty good, however, the water in my camelbak was sloshing and Ashke had his ears back listening. He tried to speed up and run faster and the last thing I wanted was a horse running away from something on his back. I asked him to trot and he obediantly slowed down to an extended trot. (I have already figured out how to eliminate the air from the bag so it is silent when we trot or canter. 

Nicole was so happy about the canter. It was amazing. 

After we rode past the subdivision I recognized where we were. We turned south to a dirt access road which took us back to the canal. We followed the canal north until it reached the equine trail that led back to 152nd.


The horses were both pretty tired. Nicole, however, seemed pretty happy.

Callie was starting to stumble and clip her toes on the uneven ground.

Ashke was still walking pretty much like he started out. He was tired though.

Ashke spent most of the day with his ears pricked, paying attention but not stressed at all. He showed that he loves being out on the trail, that he loves seeing new things. There was never a moment, minis aside, when I felt like we were in trouble or he wasn't paying attention to me. He has such a nice, long walk when we get going. And he seems to like to get going in areas where we haven't been before. It will be a lot of fun to stretch him, take him to the mountains or to Bear Creek.

We cantered along the side of the road when we got close to the stables. Callie cantered further than we did, but I wasn't comfortable with the footing and there is a gate that Ashke absolutely hates.

When we got back to the stable I checked my Runmeter app to see our distance. We had ridden 6 miles in an hour and 49 minutes. Not bad for a horse that was on the edge of death 24 weeks ago and a young'un. 

Here is the map of our ride.

On our next ride we will go North on the canal, cuz no one wants to meet the minis again. I love this map app. 

Ashke has been with me 24 weeks. I think he looks awesome. And I think he will be an endurance horse. The question now is . . . will Callie?

He is getting stronger every day. He's already pretty darn smart and I think he enjoys being ridden out of the arena. Next Saturday is another ride.


Enough weight to fuel his long distance but not so much it slows him down. He seems happy and healthy and so glad to see me.

Next Saturday I need to go to Down Under Saddlery to get a set of saddlebags. I might try to run over there on my lunch break this week. They have a set of three and I need them. I am going to set up an emergency kit in one side, which will have gauze, vet wrap, antibiotic, and a pair of wire cutters. I want to put a light weight raincoat in the middle one and then I can pack my lunch in the third compartment.

And, I've lost twenty pounds. Ashke thanks me.